Follow the Contours

Casting Shadows
In this cast drawing, I used crosshatched cross-contour lines to create the shadowed areas. Notice how the lines follow the form of the figure, helping to both establish and accentuate the illusion of three dimensions.

Cross-contour lines are marks used in drawing to emphasize the three-dimensional nature of your subject. The principle is simple: By using lines to follow the undulations and curves of your subject, you can create and intensify the optical illusion of form on a two-dimensional shape, as I did in the cast drawing at left. Another example of this use of cross-contour lines can be seen in the drawing of the sphere (at right). Notice how the sweeping lines intensify the spherical appearance of the shape. You?ll find that this approach works well for re-creating virtually any curved surface, even drapery or the waviness of clothing.

For the examples shown here, I laid down cross-contour lines, then crosshatched over them with other cross-contour lines to accentuate the forms even further. (Cross-hatching is a drawing technique in which you use layers of crisscrossing lines to develop tonal values. While some artists draw meticulously—sometimes even mechanically—straight parallel lines, and apply subsequent layers at 90 degrees to the previous lines, I find that cross-hatching is a great way to build up cross contours while at the same time giving your drawings a freewheeling, spontaneous and even expressionistic look.) But however you choose to apply them, you?ll find that cross-contour lines are a simple way to give your drawings a stronger, more convincing feeling.

David Rosenthal of Cincinnati, Ohio, has had an interest in photography for 10 years. But it was about four years ago that he decided to devote more time to developing his talent. Most of his training has been book- learned with guidance from idols Edward Weston, Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams. When he’s not in the darkroom or out on a shoot, he likes to spend time with his wife, Andrea, and two daughters, Eva and Mae.

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